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Find Another Tribe

There are two kinds of bullying, and you fight them in different ways. Active bullying is when people do something, like yelling or hiding your tools. This is the kind of bullying everyone can see and that you can report to your boss or HR. Passive bullying is when people don’t do something, for example when they invite everybody else to an event. It is hard to report this kind of bullying, but you can still fight back.

The important thing is to have strong relationships outside work. Many people invest most of their time and energy in their jobs, and the people at work become your tribe. We have a deep ancient fear of being excluded from our tribe. In a hunter-gatherer society, exclusion could literally be life-threatening.

If you are the victim of passive bullying at work, join another tribe. It can be your church, an environmental organization, or a sports or crafts club. You do not have to depend on being part of the tribe at work.

Is Everyone Quitting Around You?

Are your colleagues quitting their jobs? If one person leaves, that’s probably not a problem. But if several of your colleagues quit in a short time, that is a warning sign. Researchers call this “turnover contagion” – almost like quitting is infectious.

Many people quitting is a sign of a problematic workplace, often caused by a bad leader. If you don’t know why everybody is quitting around you, ask them in private. They might have been affected by bullying or other bad behavior that you were fortunate not to experience yet.

Workplace Bullying Happens Online Too

Workplace bullying happens online, too. Bullying complaints are up 44 percent over last year as organizations struggle to adapt their anti-bullying tools and policies to the new way of working. Increased remote work has shown that some organizations did not fix their bad workplace culture. Instead, they could simply keep bullying down when everyone was in the office.

Finding new tools to suppress online bullying might be possible, but that is just another temporary solution. The only real solution is to change workplace culture, so bullying is not tolerated.

If you are being bullied online at work, your organization has a bad culture. Fixing culture is hard and takes a long time. Finding a new place to work is much faster and easier.

Have People Around You

Are you as productive when working from home? Many people feel they are not, and compensate by working even more hours. The numbers show that the time we save by not commuting to work has become extra work hours, not extra free time.

If you feel your productivity is dropping when working from home, spend part of your workday working together with someone else. You do not have to work on the same thing, and you don’t even have to know the other person. If you take your laptop to a local cafe or co-working space where other people are working, you will work harder. It is exactly the same effect as when people exercise harder in the gym than they do at home. Get out of the house for part of your work-from-home days.

Unchecked Power?

Does your boss at work have unchecked power? Over the centuries, we have learned that every power needs to be balanced by some other power. That’s why successful societies have split power between legislature, executive, and judiciary. That’s why companies have HR departments and maybe even whistleblower procedures.

Take a moment to think about how you would report bullying in your workplace. Are your anti-bullying measures effective, or do they exist only on paper? Do you believe somebody would take action? If you are not confident anybody would react, that is a red flag. It doesn’t mean there is bullying in your organization. But it means you cannot feel safe. That will affect your health and wellbeing. You might want to consider changing to another department or another company.